ROK parliament votes overwhelmingly to impeach President Park

The Republic of Korean lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on December 9 to impeach President Park Geun-hye over an influence-peddling scandal, setting the stage for her to become the country's first elected leader to be expelled from office in disgrace.

rok parliament votes overwhelmingly to impeach president park hinh 0
The impeachment motion was carried by a wider-than-expect 234-56 margin in a secret ballot in parliament, meaning more than 60 of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party members backed removing her. The votes of at least 200 members of the 300-seat chamber were needed for the motion to pass.

The Constitutional Court must now decide whether to uphold the impeachment, a process that could take up to 180 days.

"I solemnly accept the voice of the parliament and the people and sincerely hope this confusion is soundly resolved," Park told a Cabinet meeting, adding that she would comply with the court's proceedings as well as an investigation by a special prosecutor.

Park, whose approval rating stands at just 5 percent, has resisted demands that she step down immediately.

Under the constitution, Park's duties were assumed by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on an interim basis until the court rules.

"I stand here with heavy-hearted sadness," Hwang said in a televised address. "As an aide to the president, I feel deep responsibility about the situation we have come to face."

Park, 64, is accused of colluding with a friend and a former aide, both of whom have been indicted by prosecutors, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

Park, who is serving a single five-year term that was set to end in February 2018, has denied wrongdoing but apologized for carelessness in her ties with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

If Park leaves office early, an election must be held within 60 days.

Reuters